Tigers bounce back to capture region opener against Southside-Selma

Published 9:44 am Monday, September 10, 2007

Coaches usually emphasize for their players not to get too low after a loss nor too high after a win.
At the same time, it was hard for both T.R. Miller Tigers coach Jamie Riggs and his team to hold back their elation from Friday's 28-6 road win over the Southside-Selma Panthers in the Class 4A Region 1 opener for both teams.
It was a big rebound by the Tigers from their 36-7 loss to Clarke County the week before. The Tigers more than doubled their offensive yardage output of 140 yards the week before with 339 yards against Southside-Selma, as they quadrupled their week one point total.
Junior running back Matt Lane surpassed the Tigers opening week yardage output by himself, as he racked up 146 yards of total offense. Lane got most of that yardage on the ground where he ran for 135 yards on 20 attempts, which included touchdown runs of 26, 11 and 35 yards. He also had an 11-yard reception.
T.R. Miller (1-1 overall and 1-0 in region play) drove to the Southside-Selma three-yard line on its opening drive and to the Panthers' five-yard line on its second drive only to be stopped on downs on each possession.
In between those two frustrating drives was a 97-yard, 10-play drive by the Panthers that ended with a 15-yard touchdown run up the middle by Orlando Brown. The Tigers were able to stop Frank Vasser's two-point run attempt, which kept Southside-Selma's lead at 6-0 with 57 seconds left in the first quarter.
That was the first of three special teams mistakes by the Panthers (0-2 overall and 0-1 in region play) in the first half that changed the complexion of the game.
Punting was a big problem for Southside-Selma most of the game. Panthers punter Marcus Ishman netted a grand total of 42 yards on his first three attempts. The first of those was a 16-yard kick after the T.R. Miller defense stopped the Panthers deep in their own territory.
T.R. Miller began its third possession at the Southside-Selma 37-yard line and needed just five plays to cover the distance. Twenty-six of those yards came on the first of Lane's three touchdown runs on a dash down the left sideline that tied the game.
Christopher Griffin added the point after attempt that gave T.R. Miller a 7-6 lead with 4:49 left in the first half. It was not only the Tigers first lead of the game, but of the season.
The game's biggest play arguably came on the ensuing kickoff when the ball bounced off the Panthers' receiver and into the hands of T.R. Miller's Mikey Roye at the Southside-Selma 29-yard line.
It took the Tigers just two plays to capitalize on the first of four Panther turnovers. Wil Riggs hit Brandon Andrews with an 18-yard pass completion that set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Lane on a zigzag move up the middle. Griffin's PAT kick extended T.R. Miller's lead to 14-6 with 4:28 left in the half.
The Tigers' advantage could have been even bigger at halftime. In addition to the two early drives that got stopped at the Southside-Selma three and five-yard line, the Tigers were again turned away deep in Panther territory late in the first half.
T.R. Miller had just stopped Southside-Selma on downs at the Panthers' 39-yard line when it tackled Kevin Rown for an 11-yard loss. Runs of six and four yards by Lane and a six-yard gain by Cortez Banks pushed the Tigers to the 23-yard line where Southside-Selma's Frank Vasser recovered a fumble.
Despite those missed opportunities, the Tigers' defense and Southside-Selma's punting problems created another chance in the opening moments of the third quarter.
The Tigers' defense forced a quick three-and-out deep in Panther territory to start the second half. Ishman managed just a nine-yard punt that allowed T.R. Miller to take over on Southside-Selma's 40-yard line.
This time the Tigers took advantage of the good field position, as they covered the 40 yards over eight plays. The key play along the way was a 17-yard run by Seth Holland on second-and-long early in the drive although Banks ended it with a one-yard plunge up the middle. Griffin's PAT kick made it 21-6 with 5:54 left in the third quarter.
T.R. Miller's defense set up the Tigers' final score in the opening moments of the fourth quarter. Bradley McCreary intercepted a deflected pass thrown by Xavier Mack that bounced off a couple of players before he secured it at Southside-Selma's 35-yard line.
It took Lane 10 seconds to win a 35-yard dash to the end zone on the following play that all but wrapped up the win. Griffin's PAT accounted for the remaining part of the 28-6 margin with 11:21 left.
The Tigers return home this coming Friday for another Region 1 clash against Escambia County. The Blue Devils are now the lone undefeated team left in Region 1, as they ran their record to 2-0 with a 20-13 win over W.S. Neal Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.